The Domino Effect on Performance
It’s a rare project that finishes on time and on budget and more often the cause is about just not having the right information at the right time. Simply relying on measuring variance against the budget and keeping an eye on current scheduled tasks might tell you where you are, but it won’t tell you where you’re going.
Whilst knowing where you are is important, what’s needed is to put mechanisms in place to constantly analyse and predict future costs and the consequent effect of progress, so you can adjust and make timely management decisions in order to achieve the project goals set out in the charter.
Essentially the project budget and cost baseline is a target, something to aim for. At the project start the budget is the forecast, but this changes pretty fast. Multiple forces are working against you at times, from belated funding constraints, team interplay issues, realized and concurrent risks to name a few. Forecasting on the other hand is assessed from a position of where you are, and adjusting this in line with the current strategies and performance trends.
As an overall summary of project status the Target Graph will tell you where you are as well as give you the current performance trend in relation to the respective quadrants.
This graph is based on the use of project performance curves (‘S’ Curves) which is well established in project control and cost engineering circles. However, it is interpreting the story they tell about the future, that are key to achieving project success.
For the art of prediction, what needs to be considered is the domino effect of performance variance over the project life-cycle and its consequences on downstream work. Being late on one curve will invariably cause you to go late on subsequent ones.
If the drawings are not issued AFC on time, the construction will be delayed and will cost more. The cause? Engineering didn’t get the vendor certified design data. Why? Procurement didn’t get the order placed in time. Why? The client failed to provide the revised specification.
So, what is needed is to be able to identify the likely root cause of a future problems in time to prevent them. This requires having the mechanisms in place and the data analytics in skillful hands to generate it and act on it.